About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stage Fright And I

I got away from playing the guitar for people for well over 15 years. Mostly it was becaus my photography career took over. It was just as well because even though I love the music and the guitar, I was never comfortable with performing. The nervousness was terrible. Playing in a noisy bar or at a private party was one thing, even playing in a wedding ceremony wasn't too bad because the focus was not on me. Every time I got into a situation where I was the focus of attention the stage fright was horrible. I think back about performing in a Christopher Parkening master class in front of all the other student guitarists and I wonder how I ever got through it. This has always bothered me because I want to be in CONTROL of my thoughts and actions. I want to overcome stage fright, or "performance anxiety" which some call it. There are two key things in doing so. You must know your material and you must go out and perform as much as possible. In the past four years I have been re-learning my repertoire and putting myself out there playing in front of people again. Last December I played a gig at a musicians Christmas party. All eyes were on me as I played about a 20 minute set. I fumbled in the usual spots in some of the songs, played most of them OK. The listeners LOVED it. I got some really good feedback. However, I was a nervous wreck. I was sweating so much it flowed off my face and into my eyes with a burning sensation. Profuse sweating. I remember experiencing that years ago. On other occasions my hands would shake. Sometimes both would occur. Three Summers ago I played an outdoor lunchtime concert in down town Watertown. I thought people would be sitting around eating their lunch and chatting. I was not prepared for what I got: Everyone sitting quietly, hanging on every note I played. My mind was racing with ways I could excuse myself and flee. The worst part of it was I had to fill up two whole hours! Yikes. But I got through it. Each time gets a little better.

Sor Study #2 Played by Me at Depauville Library August 15, 2012

Anyhow, last Wednesday I played a recital type situation at the library in Depauville, NY. There were about 25 people there. One of the things I did was introduce myself to folks as they arrived and mingled a bit before the show. That was a big help. Then when it was time for the show I stood before the audience and formally inroduced myself and talked a few minutes. I was 100% relaxed, feeling GOOD, comfortable with the situation. They settled down, I sat down with the guitar and formed an A major chord to start a fairly easy etude by Matteo Carcassi. At that moment my mouth went dry. My mind went off somewhere and I couldn't remember what I was about to play. So I said something to the audience, my hands began to tremble, and I proceeded to play an alternate piece (also by Carcassi). Mentally I more or less tried to downplay the anxiety. The shaking hands were not anyway near as bad as when that would happen in the past, and, I managed to not break out into a sweat. Overall the show went well but I simply abandoned some of the pieces I was going to play, I had a few memory lapses, and I fumbled in, once again, some of the same spots in the same pieces that I frequently fumble. That means I must still work on those segments. Some selections I played well and was pleased with how I performed the. Romance was one of them. Lagrima by Francisco tarrega and three other Tarrega etudes came off especially well. I fumbled a spot in Carcassi study #19 that I thought I had down so well i would never fumble it again. That's what is confounding. Playing something well dozens or hundreds of times and then suddenly fumble it or simply have an unexplainable memory lapse. It's akin to singers forgetting song lyrics. Anyhow, I plan to keep at it and learn how to master the stage, stage fright, and gain command of the audience. The Better Half doesn't understand why I want to do that. But it's simple: I want to be in control of myself, not let my emotions and situations control me.

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Please leav comments and suggestions about this blog and how I maght improve it. Thanks, Gary Walts